The Earth Force presents itself as a “strong arm, a helping hand”.
Whose arm and hand? They would not be from Brazilian society. What sense would it make for the arm and hand of Brazilians to announce friendship to Brazilians?
The slogan is fallacious. The army belongs to the state, not to the people. It even tries to lead the State, meddling in its bowels and business.
The people must pay the costs, hand over their children to the commanders and protect themselves as best they can.
State and society have always been entities with difficulties in conciliation. State is dominion over society, explained Machiavelli, giving rise to modern political thought. It has its own will, it does not translate the collective desire.
When the dynastic principle lost legitimacy, the idea that power should emanate from the people came into vogue. The legitimation of the State came to be conferred by an abstract community, the nation.
Brazilian soldiers have presented a “nation project” in recent days. They did not realize the illegality perpetrated. They listed sinister propositions, without an ounce of love for the people. They bowed before the rich and powerful. They ignored constitutional principles.
I will not stick, here, to the festival of horrors exposed. It is a nostalgic proposal for the dark colonial times. I record that I didn’t find any news. Most of the points listed are in progress. Some even with the support of the unsuspecting left, like the one that intends, through “civic-military schools”, to convert children into janissaries.
I focus on a basic question: how do the military obtain authority to dictate the course of society? They have been doing this with impunity ever since they ordered Pedro II to die outside his home.
Petulance does not derive only from the possession of weapons. Violence needs to be coated with “noble” justifications.
The permissiveness of the military is based on the State apparatus and on the fragility of popular reactions.
The Brazilian State was born owned by a few. It’s patriarchal and racist. Keep society in check. He never aspired to effective sovereignty, he always obeyed the lords of the world. He created instruments of force that correspond to his designs. Armed corporations portray their nature.
Society, in turn, was never mobilized to change the State. Punctually combat aspects of its perverse domination.
The last Constituent Assembly praised citizenship, but did not change the State. It left intact fundamental apparatus for the submission of society. The instruments of force remained in their traditional roles. In the case of military corporations, the existential dilemma of acting as police and external defense remained untouched.
The Charter assigned to the military the mission of defending the homeland, that is, the nation. By these terms, it is possible to designate both the State and society. The expression “National State” is even more cunning: it refers to a dominion over society exercised with its consent.
The nation has never been convincingly conceptualized. Ernest Renan said it would be an “everyday choice”; Otto Bauer said it would be a community united by the promise of a common destiny for all. Benedict Anderson said it would be an “imagined community”…
The nation is mysterious and charming because it refers to the distant past and the unknown future. Both scoundrels and honest people speak on behalf of this community for which people kill and die.
After Mussolini, Hitler and Franco, “nationalism” became an ugly thing in Europe, but in lands colonized by the European, it persisted virtuously. Left and right proclaim themselves nationalists.
It is past time for us to understand that the State is not a nation. Nation is society. Armed arms of the State do not express collective will. They express the designs of a State that, while maintaining the colonial legacy, harms society.
As long as conceptual confusion prevails, pedantocrats in uniform, as they used to say at the time when the rank and file ordered the Emperor to die outside the house, will try to master the fate of the people.
They will write “nation projects” and dictate “national goals”. They will usurp popular sovereignty without fear of going to jail.
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s view does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil de facto.
Editing: Rebeca Cavalcante